If I like it, you do too

by Jody Simpson, PhD (comments: 0)


Company B is a medium sized retail business.  The company has, among its employee motivation programs, a “salesperson of the week” award which is announced at the Monday morning sales team meetings.  The company also recognizes employees who make a positive contribution of ideas or who receive kudos from clients.  Those employees receiving kudos are also recognized during the Monday morning rally.  Company B’s HR department developed these incentive programs with the belief that all people like to receive recognition among their peers for a job well done.  The company also developed the program with the belief that recognizing the desired behavior in one employee will produce more of the desired behavior in fellow employees – thus the power of modeling.  James is a hardworking sales representative but the manager of his sales team rarely submits his team members for recognition.  Amy is also a hard working sales representative and the manager of her sales team often submits her name for recognition at the Monday morning team meeting.  Although Amy and James are equally good sales reps, both are miserable in their jobs.  Amy began to call in “sick” on Monday mornings, especially if there was a risk that she might receive the “salesperson of the week” award.  James’ sales decreased and he eventually resigned his job in Company B to work for a competitor in an equal position. 

So where’s the problem?  Both employees are skilled in their jobs, have good productivity, and both please the company from the company’s point of view.  Both managers believe they were doing a good job of motivating their employees.  The first problem is that neither manager understood the underlying motivation of their employee.  The second problem is that the developers of Company B’s employee incentive program developed incentives which match their own motivational drives rather than considering that not all of us are motivated similarly.  How often do you make an assumption of what would motivate your employee, partner, child, student, or co-worker, based on what you like?

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